The arrest and custody of Kerala journalist Siddiqque Kappan, who is under custody since October 5 since his arrest by the Uttar Pradesh police while he was on his way to report the Hathras rape case, was mentioned in the Supreme Court on Wednesday during the hearing of the Arnab Goswami’s case.
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, who was representing the State of Maharashtra, mentioned Kappan’s arrest before the bench at the fag end of the hearing in the Goswami’s case.
As the vacation bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee hurriedly pick up the bail petition and was about to wind up the arguments before the pronouncement of orders, Sibal submitted:
‘A Kerala journalist was arrested by UP police when he was going to Hathras to report. We came to this Court under Article 32. The Court said go to lower court. The petition was posted after four weeks. Such things are also happening”.
The bench did not pass any comments on Sibal’s submissions.
Kappan, a freelance journalist reporting for Malayalam portals, was arrested by the UP police on October 5 along with three others in an FIR registered for alleged criminal conspiracy to create societal unrest in the wake of Hathras incident.
The stringent provisions of anti-terror legislation Unlawful Activities Prevention Act(UAPA) and sedition were invoked against Kappan and others. A local court in Mathura remanded them to custody.
It should be noted Following his arrest, the Kerala Union of Working Journalists(KUWJ) filed a habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court challenging Kappan’s custody. The KUWJ argued that the arrest was illegal and unconstitutional.
On October 12, a bench lead by the Chief Justice of India expressed disinclination to entertain the petition and suggested to Sibal(who was appearing for KUWJ) that the petitioner should approach the High Court.
Sibal submitted that Kappan was unlikely to get bail from courts in Uttar Pradesh and persuaded the bench to keep the matter alive.
The bench then proceeded to list the matter after four weeks refusing to issue notice on the habeas plea to the State of Uttar Pradesh.
Last week, the KUWJ filed an interim application in the habeas petition seeking permission for regular VC meetings of Kappan with his family members and lawyers after the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mathura, refused such permission.
On Wednesday, after a day-long hearing, the Supreme Court ordered the release of Arnab Goswami and two co-accused who were remanded to judicial custody on November 4 in the Anvay Naik abetment to suicide case.
Goswami and other had approached the Supreme Court yesterday challenging the refusal of the Bombay High Court to grant them interim bail in the habeas corpus writ petitions filed by them challenging their custody.
The Supreme Court observed that “High Court was in error in rejecting the application for grant of interim bail”.
The High Court had said that no prima facie case was made to exercise the extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 226 when the petitioner had the alternate remedy of seeking regular bail under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Earlier The HC granted liberty to the petitioner to seek regular bail and directed that the Sessions Court should decide the same within four days.
Yesterday, the Alibag Sessions Court posted the bail application for hearing tomorrow.
Meanwhil The President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave, had questioned the priority listing given to Goswami’s petitions and wrote to the SC Secretary-General saying :
“While thousands of Citizens remain in jails languishing for long periods while their matters filed before the Honble Supreme Court are not getting listed for weeks and months, it is, to say the least, deeply disturbing as to how and why every time Mr Goswami approaches the Supreme Court, his matter gets listed instantly.
Likes of Shri Goswami get special treatment while ordinary Indians are made to suffer , including Imprisonment, which are many times illegal and unauthorised”.
Social media activists criticised Supreme Court action in lightening manner it awarded bail for accused Arnab Goswami and in a meme they have posted Supreme Court in saffron ( a symbolisms of Ringht wing group RSS ) and hoisted BJP flag